What Does Tian Tsui Mean?-Dian Cui

What Does Tian Tsui Mean?-Dian Cui

Dian Cui, called Tian Tsui ,a traditional Chinese craftsmanship dating back to the Han Dynasty, involves the creation of gold and silver jewelry. It is an auxiliary craft used to embellish and beautify gold and silver jewelry.


Dian Cui is a perfect combination of traditional metalwork and featherwork. The process begins by crafting a base of gold or gilded metal into various patterns. Then, using gold wire, a groove is made along the edges of the floral pattern, and a suitable amount of adhesive is applied to the center. The exquisite and colorful feathers of the kingfisher bird are carefully embedded on the metal base to form various ornamental pieces of jewelry. These patterns are often further adorned with inlaid precious gemstones such as pearls, jade, red coral, and agate, adding elegance and nobility to the pieces.


Jewelry made using the Dian Cui technique possesses a brilliant luster and vibrant colors that do not fade over time. The craftsmanship involved in creating these pieces is highly intricate. The feathers' iridescence combined with the elaborate gold edges showcases a unique beauty. Each piece is meticulously handcrafted, making every item one-of-a-kind. The pinnacle of Dian Cui's development was during the reigns of Kangxi, Yongzheng, and Qianlong in the Qing Dynasty. The exceptional skill level and enduring artistic value of these pieces reflect the remarkable talent and creativity of ancient Chinese artisans.


Historical Development

Dian Cui has been practiced since the Han Dynasty, where it served as an auxiliary craft to embellish gold and silver jewelry. Feathers of the kingfisher bird have been used for adornment in ancient regal attire, such as the phoenix crowns of emperors and the queen. Over the ages, this traditional craft in gold and silver jewelry-making has continued to improve and reached its peak during the Qianlong period. Today, due to the protection of the kingfisher bird as a national treasure, substitutes are used to create Dian Cui jewelry. As a result, this traditional craft is gradually fading away.


Dian Cui Materials

Dian Cui uses feathers, particularly those in vivid blue and azure hues, from the kingfisher bird, also known as the kingfisher or jade. The bird's feathers possess a dazzling iridescence, resembling the luster of emeralds, and are renowned for their radiant and shimmering colors. The feathers are carefully arranged and affixed onto a base with adhesive to create stunning jewelry pieces. However, given the rarity and delicate nature of the kingfisher bird, modern Dian Cui pieces often use substitute materials.


Imitation Dian Cui

Imitation Dian Cui pieces are commonly made using peacock feathers. These decorative items are usually used for theatrical purposes and can be easily distinguished. The feathers are thicker and less supple, and the overall craftsmanship may not be as refined. Peacock feathers are less water-resistant compared to the feathers of the kingfisher bird, causing them to curl and fall off when exposed to moisture. Another type of imitation uses coarse-textured, blue-colored imported paper from the Republican era. Although these papers offer some water resistance, they cannot match the exquisite beauty of authentic kingfisher feathers. Some inexpensive imitations are also made using blue pigments. While these affordable imitations cannot compare to jewelry crafted with precious kingfisher feathers, they still reflect people's admiration for Dian Cui adornments.

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